"The basic right to shelter, warmth and self-protection..."
Bangladesh is generally considered one of the warmer countries with sweltering heat and sticky humidity, and the winters mild enough to require but just a shawl or sweater. However, with recent climate effects – warmer countries continue to get colder winters. Temperatures as low as below 10 Degrees Celsius maybe a minor adjustment in a place like Canada, but it can take a different affect on the local people in Bangladesh – particularly in the marginalised communities and villages that may not have the proper resources to help protect and keep warm to such changes. Of the 7 million children living on the streets and in villages of Bangladesh, 84% of them do not have winter clothing (Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics, 2003). It’s sad but true, but many don’t even understand the reasons to these climate changes and have no way of telling what the weather will be like or forecasted. Cold winter in Bangladesh is a whole different meaning where the health and lives of locals are drastically at risk.
In 2006, when the cold wave had hit its worst in Bangladesh’s smaller villages in Jessore, Kurigram and Parila (a village in greater Rajshahi) – members of Drishtipat Canada felt the need to intervene with immediate support by coordinating an online fundraising towards purchasing cost price brand new winter clothing and blankets from garment factories in Bangladesh. Funds raised were used 100% towards the purchasing of quality products. It is quite obvious now to why the project was named as such and how such a small token of significance can give you that great reward of a smile... This original initiative was in fact, borrowed from the University of Toronto’s Bangladeshi Students’ Association’s (BSA) A Sweater for a Smile campaign in the year before.
The winter products were dispersed amongst the affected locals, with a priority given to the children and elderly – who are naturally the most vulnerable with their health.
This project will potentially be extended next winter by raising funds to build makeshift winter shelters for the homeless. If you have suggestions/ideas/questions regarding this potential extension, please firstname.lastname@example.org
The journey of help is never an easy one, and with the help of together – hundreds of smiles were raised from knowing that they were not alone. Thank you all for coming through!
The official number of deaths caused in the 2006/7 cold wave is over 110!